Good grief. I love Aggieville in Manhattan, but it is kind of nice to go to a bar district where there are 100s of bars owned by more than two guys. I didn't pay more than $3 for a drink all weekend.
Oh yeah, there was a football game that went along with all the partying. A pretty damn good one, if you were wearing purple.
Saturday was my first game at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (which means I've seen games at exactly half the Big 12 venues). To say I enjoyed the experience would be an understatement, and not just because the Cats came out on top. The fans were enjoyable, engaging in a little smack, but never making it personal. Other than the person who asked me and my buddy if it was a thrill for a K-Stater to see Vince Young (um, cool, maybe not a thrill. I've also seen Terence Newman, himself a top-five pick), I didn't run into any excessive arrogance and actually sat next to a very pleasant gentleman. I can't even count the number of fans after the game who came up to me and my buddy and patted us on the shoulder and told us they were very impressed with how well "our team" had played. More than the number of Nebraska fans who did the same in 2003.
As I snapped this picture, a cop was screaming "Get out of the way!" at me.
The pregame atmosphere was enjoyable. We started down on 6th, getting to the stadium 45 minutes before gametime. Texas' band is very good, and the pregame marching show was entertaining. One thing I've always wished K-State would do is play the opposing team's fight song or alma mater...Texas played our entire alma mater, giving me a chance to wow everyone around me with my singing skill. And of course there are few better college songs than "The Eyes of Texas."
As for the game itself, I have so many good things to say about our players and coaches that I probably won't get to them all, but I'll try.
The primary thing I noticed at the end of the game was we had three penalties for 23 yards. K-State averaged 13 penalties and 133 penalty yards per game for the first three games. Credit probably has to be shared here, as I'm guessing the coaches made some adjustments and the players probably also realized it was a bad idea to flatten quarterbacks three steps after they released the ball. Either way, huge props to the team for at least temporarily (more on that later) fixing what has been a serious problem.
I have been critical of Justin McKinney in the past, but he had a great game. The pass breakup when it looked for all intents and purposes as if Limas Sweed was going to make a huge catch deep in K-State territory was a display of great effort. He also had a very athletic play when he broke up a pass deep in the second half, diving in from behind to break up what probably would have been a touchdown. He also had an interception and did NOT have any major penalties. Well played, #22.
Jordy Nelson is the man. In the Big 12 Roundtable last week, I wrote that he is the most underrated player in the conference. He did nothing to disprove that perception this weekend, catching 12 passes for 116 yards and one touchdown. I see the Cats have finally reentered the AP poll (no love yet from the coaches). We shall see what this week brings from the national pundits, but Nelson needs to be mentioned as a candidate for All-American.
Quickly, kudos also to James Johnson for a solid effort running the ball and the HUGE kickoff return for a touchdown. He showed an incredible burst in hitting the seam to break that one. Ian Campbell made an amazing interception at the line of scrimmage and rumbled for a touchdown return, marking the high point of an otherwise ordinary day (two tackles, no TFL, no sacks). His postgame comments may have me scratching my head (more on that later), but he had a huge play and brings it every snap. Finally, a shoutout to the entire offensive line for working hard and doing a serviceable, if not dominating, job. Josh Freeman took a few hits yesterday, but nothing too bad, and although the yards-per-carry average was, well, very average at 2.7, the line did enough at crucial running times.
Going forward, my only remaining question about Ron Prince and this team is consistent effort. I read an interesting quote by Dr. Bob Rotella, the sports psychologist of golf fame. He once said (I'm paraphrasing) that a golfer never 'plays over his head.' Great rounds and great stretches of golf are merely a glimpse into the true potential of that golfer. For example, I once made four birdies in a row in a big golf tournament. That doesn't mean I'm ever going to birdie every hole, but it showed me how good I could be. That's exactly what we're waiting to see from K-State. We have seen huge wins over top-10 teams both this year and last year in the Texas games. We have seen great overall games against lesser opponents, for example last year against Colorado, Iowa State and Oklahoma State, and this year against Missouri State. And then, we have seen putrid outings like last year's trip to see that team down the river. I want this team and coaching staff to show all its fans that it can bring that level of effort and execution every week, and not just at certain times against certain opponents.
For example, I mentioned some of Ian Campbell's postgame comments earlier. Here's what I was talking about...
"I’m sure KU was watching the game," Campbell said. "This game was a message to everyone, not just KU."
I kind of thought Campbell would have learned his lesson last year (can't find the actual comments, but he basically said we were going to smack KU around after beating UT). This is what worries me. This win over Texas means absolutely nothing if we don't bring the same effort to Bill's House next weekend. We aren't going to beat KU because they're so impressed that we beat Texas, we're going to beat KU by playing as hard and as focused as we did against Texas.
Yeah, I know, it's amazing that I just complained about something after a 20-point win in Austin. But the biggest issue we saw last year was not bringing consistent effort every week. Maybe that has changed this year. We will find out next week.
Stay tuned for more thoughts on this weekend's action. In the meantime, enjoy more of the sights from Austin after the jump. Just click on the link below to see the full story.
Here's a view from our seats. We weren't in the K-State section, but we were treated so well I didn't mind giving up camaraderie for a great view of the field.
A little game action from our view.
This is the pregame band show. At halftime they had an alumni band show. Not that I saw much of it, it started pouring. We heard later there was a chance of hail. Fortunately we never had any falling ice.
Can't blame the UT fans for not wanting to stick around. This was taken during the fourth quarter.
Your fearless blogger.